[News] A Remembrance of John and Bunchy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 17 12:21:55 EST 2019


A Remembrance of John and Bunchy*

Ericka Huggins <https://www.facebook.com/Ericka-Huggins-15875623977/>- 
Thursday, January 17, 2019 

John Huggins, Jr and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter were both leading 
members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Panther Party, and they 
were new students at UCLA. John was 23 and Bunchy was 26. I remember 
them every day. And today is the day that, 50 years ago, on January 17, 
1969, their lives ended on the campus of the University of California at 
Los Angeles, in Campbell Hall.

There are people I’ve met for the first time, and feel that I’ve known 
them forever. John Huggins and Bunchy Carter were two of these splendid 

In 1967 I met John. We were students at Lincoln University, a Historical 
Black University in Pennsylvania. We always bumped into each other, and 
each time we stopped and talked. We spoke about the poverty around the 
world and about the pervasive racism in the US—not just the South, but 
also the North, the West, and the East. We shared our dreams for a world 
without hate and war. I learned that John came from New Haven, 
Connecticut. A natural leader, John was an activist long before I met 
him, interested in changing discrepancies in the treatment of poor and 
black communities in Connecticut and beyond.

John joined the US Navy after high school. While he was on a ship, he 
heard about the killing of four little girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise 
McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. They were killed inside the 
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Ku Klux Klan 
members opposed to school desegregation bombed the church, destroying 
the lives of those sweet girls and their families—and shaking up the 
lives of all of us who knew. Hearing about the deaths of those children, 
John was so hurt that he wanted to return to the states, and serve his 
people, all people of color, at home. Our generation of young people 
could no longer tolerate the ongoing violations of civil and, HUMAN 
rights. So many of us were being called to respond--and we showed up—all 
over the world.

John was wise for his years, and he was also self-assured. He was a 
perfect combination of pride in himself, and heightened sensitivity. I 
believe he was born that way. I’m sure that, this self-assuredness 
helped him to survive life on a Navy ship. He once said to me, “I both 
joined and left the Navy because I was tired of being told where to be, 
what to learn, who to be, what to think.” After we’d been together a 
little while our love, rooted in friendship, made us inseparable. And, 
from the very beginning of our short life together, John and I loved 
each other, unconditionally.

While on campus John and I read a Ramparts Magazine article, about the 
Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and the jailing of Huey P, Newton, 
co-founder and leader of the party. We decided to join this 
organization. The main purpose of the party was to empower communities 
of color to reclaim the right to determine their destiny. John and I 
left Lincoln together, and drove from Manhattan to LA in time for the 
rally to “Free Huey” in the fall of 1967. We joined the Black Panther 
Party within a month. John loved people and cared for them directly. One 
day months later, as I entered a moment of despair, feeling that I was 
not able to do more to transform the hatred and cruelty in the world, 
John quietly said to me, “Before you can make revolution in society, you 
must first make revolution in yourself.” I was immediately uplifted by 
his compassionate words.
As soon as John and I joined the party in November 1967, we heard again 
and again about Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. He was a gracious man, a 
natural leader of the LA chapter of the Black Panther Party. The day we 
met Bunchy I found in him the older brother I never had. His respect for 
me as a woman and as a comrade was inspiring. Bunchy moved through life 
with a sense of his own worth, his value and heritage. In his presence I 
often felt my value and worth. Often, when people asked his name, he 
would say, looking proudly and directly into their eyes, “ I’m Bunchy. 
Like a bunch of greens!” He was disarming.

Bunchy was formally the leader of the Slausons, a LA community 
institution. He became a Black Panther Party member in prison. He 
educated himself there, and then educated many of the Slausons, 
encouraging them to serve the people, by joining the BPP. This is 
important. Bunchy knew that those of us who live in conditions of 
structural poverty and government sanctioned violence, cycle through 
communities—lacking in housing, health care, food and education—to the 
prisons. He knew that educating himself was crucial. He knew that 
educating those incarcerated with him was empowering and powerful. 
Bunchy knew that thousands of young black and brown men and women live 
in these invisible communities, hidden behind concrete and steel walls.

Why not organize them?

Decades later I listened to research, collected in the city of LA and 
presented in South Central LA. One significant fact stood out to me: 
 From the mid-1900’s to the 1980’s, in LA, whenever social movements 
were on the rise, gang activity decreased. Conversely when gang activity 
is on rise, social movement decreases.
Bunchy was eloquent, well read, and fiercely astute. The professors who 
taught me at Lincoln couldn’t hold a candle to Bunchy’s self-taught 
knowledge of African History, the history of Africans in the US, and the 
group fear we call racism. In political education classes Bunchy let us 
know, some of us for the first time, that Africa was a powerful and 
thriving civilization. The cultures of the continent were beautiful 
before colonization, before the Mid-Atlantic slave trade. He let us know 
that though our African-American ancestors had been enslaved, but we 
were not slaves. Many of us carried that focus with us into our party 
work. I did.

Both John and Bunchy were amazing intellects. They did not, however, 
become students at UCLA only to get a degree. They registered in 1968 
with the intention to uplift students of color, especially black and 
brown students. They were there to support the hiring of more black and 
brown faculty and staff, and to create community on the very white UCLA 
campus of 1968. The BPP was serious about organizing all of the segments 
of our communities, the working poor, the unemployed and those 
considered “unemployable”. Bunchy and John knew that people living in 
conditions of poverty as well as the arts and the intelligentsia all 
have a great role to play in the creation of a new world. Creative 
thinkers and doers can give back to their communities.
This was a small part of the work that Bunchy and John were doing as 
party members. They organized the LA chapter. Like me, they taught 
political education classes. Both of them spoke at LA high schools, and 
people on the streets of LA. They were the inspiration for the community 
survival programs later created by the Black Panther Party chapter, in 
Los Angeles. We knew that the government forces at play stalked and 
jailed up standers like us. Is it any wonder that that the FBI put a 
mark on Bunchy and John? They were a powerful duo, threatening to those 
who fear change.

John and I lived in a house where many people shared meals and good 
company. Bunchy visited often, and, like a big brother, he always 
checked on me. I was pregnant, and I worked for the party while carrying 
my daughter, John’s daughter. I remember how kind Bunchy was during that 
time. He strongly suggested that I rest. He made sure that I had 
everything I needed.

In December 1968 when our beautiful daughter was born, John spent time 
with her, each day, on a break in party work. I know that John was aware 
that he could die. We didn’t have to say it aloud. The life we lived, 
prompted me to wonder how I would live without the precious friendship 
of Bunchy, and the safe haven that was John.

These incredibly big hearted men will always live in our memories: for 
their easy laughter, their kind words and brave ways, their wisdom in a 
challenge, and their gentleness with a child or an elder. It doesn’t 
matter how many years go by. John and Bunchy’s families will love them 
always: their sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles--and their 
children, grandchildren, countless friends and comrades.

John Huggins and Bunchy Carter live in our hearts.

One of the simple, true things I’ve learned in my years on the planet 
is: Tell the people seated in your heart that you love them, while they 
are alive.

— ericka huggins, 1.17.19

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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